M.G. Orde C. Wingate – British Christian Zionist, Father of the IDF and Valiant Commander of the CHINDITS in WWII Burma
If you are in the Washington metro vicinity on May 1st, officially the eve of Yom Ha Shoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel , you might go and witness a stirring event: the wreath laying ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery in memory of British Christian Zionist and father of the IDF, Major Gen. Orde Charles Wingate. His remains lie mingled with those of nine members of an American 1st Air Commando crew whose B-25 Mitchell bomber crashed in Burma in March, 1944. The remains of Wingate and the Americans who died in Burma were transferred in 1950 to the hallowed ground of our national military cemetery.
Watch this brief You Tube video of pictures of Wingate as Commander of the famed CHINDITS force that disrupted the Japanese in Burma during WWII by inserting forces by air behind enemy lines.
The American Jewish War Veterans with hold its 35th annual memorial ceremony at which Israeli Ambassador to the US, the Hon. Michael Oren, the British Air Attache, a USAF General and others who served with Wingate will speak at Wingate’s gravesite.
See the JWV announcement below of the program for this year's memorial.
Wingate is revered as the fabled “Ha Yedadid” - the friend- who trained the Special Night Squads (SNS) composed of Jewish Palestinians, that successfully fought Jihadis during the Arab Riots of 1936 to 1939. Many of the SNS trainees became commanders of combat units of IDF on the founding of the State of Israel in May, 1948 at the start of the War for Independence. Wingate established the enduring IDF doctrine of 'purity of arms" in pre-state irregular special ops against Arab Muslim bands of terrorists backed by the infamous Grand Mufti, Haj Amin Al Husseini. A number of IDF training facilities and streets in Israel are named in his memory.
Wingate was the commander of an irregular unit of Ethiopians, Brits, Australians and Palestinian Jews, called the Gideon Force after the Biblical general who was a legendary early practitioner of irregular warfare. Wingate’s unit succeeding in vanquishing the Italian force that had occupied Ethiopia since 1936; an early allied victory in the summer of 1941.
Despite Wingate’s own legendary eccentricities, he became one of Churchill’s favorite combat commanders because of his championing of irregular warfare. After a meeting with Churchill in Quebec, he was promoted and seconded to Admiral Lord Louis Mounbatten, who was Allied Supremo in the South East Asia Command, an aficionado of special ops warfare. Wingate developed a plan for engaging in behind the lines warfare against the Japanese forces in Burma establishing an aerial re-supply chain for Jungle bases using the resources of US Army Air Force 1st Air Commandos. The combined British, Commonweath and American force became known as CHINDITS - taken from the name of Burmese Buddhist Temple statuary dogs. The CHINDITS engaged in the second largest air invasions of WWII when more than 22,000 troops were deployed deep in Japanese –held Burmese territory in Operation Thursday. The commander of the US Ist Air Commandos, who worked closely with Wingate Col. Philip Cochran became the model for the character Flip Cochran in Milton Connif’s comic strip, “Terry and the Pirates.”
Wingate’s sudden tragic death in a US Air commando plane crash in March 1944 deprived both the allies and the IDF of a brilliant combat officer who might have become, if he had lived, the first commander of Israeli forces, even as a Christian Zionist. That role was left to American Jewish West Point graduate and US Army Ranger officer, Col. David “Mickey” Marcus, who was tragically killed by friendly fire during the early stages of Israel’s War for Independence. Col. Marcus is buried ‘on the plains’ at West Point- the US Military Academy.
Despite his tragic death in WWII combat, Wingate's legacy lives on in the military doctrine of the IDF and in special ops training in several armed services, American, British and Israel.
Honoring the memory of General Orde Wingate
The Jewish War Veterans of the USA and the JWV Department of DC hold a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery each year to remember British military Commander and ardent Zionist Orde Wingate who is credited with being the founder of Israel's military. Wingate, known in Israel as Hayedid (the Friend), helped to organize the precursor to the Israel Defense Forces and to train Israel's future military leaders while serving as an officer in Palestine in the late 1930's. People gather at Wingate's grave to hear representatives from the Israeli and British Embassies and others discuss Wingate's accomplishments. The Jewish War Veterans have held a memorial service honoring Wingate for more than 35 years.
General Orde Wingate Memorial Ceremony
Sunday, May 1, 2011 - 2:30 PM
Arlington National Cemetery
Gravesite 288 - Section 12
Parking permitted at Gravesite (west side of Grant Avenue)
In the event of rain, ceremony will move to the Women's National Memorial Auditorium
Honorable Michael Oren
Israeli Ambassador to the United States
Air Commodore, Ken McCann
Military Attache, Embassy of Great Britain
General John Alison, USAF Ret. Served with General Wingate in Burma
Professor Nicholas Kittrie, JD, American University Served with General Wingate in Burma
For all questions and comments contact Richard Rosenzweig
phone # 301-445-0452
or email [email protected]
translated from the Hungarian & edited by Thomas Ország-Land (May 2011)
STRUGGLE FOR LIFE
By Frigyes Karinthy (1887-1938): poet & satirist.
(According to Holocaust legends, this piece was read to a group of starved, naked and brutalized civilian captives -- orthodox Jews observing strict dietary rules -- to calm and comfort them before their mass murder in a gas chamber.) more>>>
When I was 15, my dad sent me off to a military high school far from home. I argued with him, cried and appealed to my mother, but to no avail. He was determined, as always. For him the matter was straightforward: if he didn’t get me out of town, I was likely to get into deep trouble of one kind of another. He also pasted on a second justification: it would make a man out of me. He thought that I spent far too much time reading, and not nearly enough at athletics, work, and other manly sports. more>>>
Introduction to the Expression of Meaning in English Churches
by David Hamilton (May 2011)
This is a brief and discursive introduction to important aspects of history, art and literature, legends and stories expressed in English cathedrals and churches with reference to some I have visited recently. It discovers a constant interlinking of symbols, meaning, history, art and literature, legends and stories between cathedrals and churches. A walk round an English church is to enter a world of religous observance but also a world of continuity and expressions of meaning. more>>>
Sir Richard Burton once called the Somalis a nation of "fierce republicans," not a bad description for an entire people, for their attitude towards guns makes the most conservative NRA enthusiast seem like a Gandhian pacifist. If seven million Somalis inhabit the Horn of Africa, with sizable minorities in neighbouring countries like Kenya and Ethiopia, then perhaps it would be reasonable to assume that among them there is a ratio of seven people per one gun, perhaps more, since almost every adult male member in Somalia has access to a firearm. more>>>
Israel: World Center for Three Great Faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Bahaism
by Norman Berdichevsky (May 2011)
Any mention of Israel by the media as “The Holy Land” almost always entails a colossal verbiage of trite conventional wisdom replete with accolades to the three great monotheistic "Abrahamic religions," Judaism, Christianity and Islam that all regard it as their world center. This is simply patently false, elevating Islam’s regard for Jerusalem (not mentioned by name even once in the Koran compared to more than 800 times in the Old Testament) and ignoring the continued and historic presence of the Bahai faith in Haifa and Acre, places of pilgrimage and universal inspiration for the world’s five million Bahais. more>>>
A Danish Free Speech Hero: An Interview with Lars Hedegaard
by Jerry Gordon (May 2011)
In George Orwell’s 1984 the totalitarian credo of the Party is ”Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past." If one looks at what passes for speech control in the European Union (EU), we see continued assault on basic freedoms. Freedoms that we take for granted in America under our Constitution's First Amendment - the masthead of the Bill of Rights. Notwithstanding this American bulwark in defense of free speech, we are witnessing the lawfare of Muslim Brotherhood front groups abetted by the US Department of Justice that seek to derogate and even supplant basic Constitutional protections via intimidation and the gradual insinuation of Shariah into our judicial system. more>>>
Sam Johnson – The “Robust Genius” of British Toryism
by Derek Turner (May 2011)
Doctor Johnson bestrides the eighteenth century – and English literature – like the Colossus of Rhodes. His Dictionary alone would have made him immortal, and when that is combined with the Rambler and Idler, his Rasselas, Lives of the Poets, his annotated Shakespeare and his conversation, recorded so brilliantly by Boswell, you have one of the most considerable figures in English history. With his massive frame, his many eccentricities, his large firmly-planted boots, his magisterial air and his enormous appetite for life, he might epitomise England — dependable, practical, prejudiced against foreigners, commonsensical, sceptical yet also God-fearing, kindly, chivalrous and civilised. more>>>
There once was a time, not so very long ago, when Americans felt the need to express a moral viewpoint or to reach for the moral level in art, literature, popular entertainment and politics. Watching old movies or television shows from fifty years ago, one is immediately struck by the moral tone which then prevailed even when, or especially when, these stories depicted immoral acts. In the 1950’s parents felt perfectly safe leaving their children to watch the “Andy Griffith Show” or “Gunsmoke” or pretty much anything else on television. We didn’t need specialized children’s programming then. We were unified by our values. But perhaps by the time Thornton Wilder wrote Our Town, America was already passing out of what my 99 year-old friend calls “a simpler time.”more>>>
In these days of economic stagnation, it is good to know that there is at least one boom market out there yet – the market for books on evolutionary theories of ethics. The last decade or so has seen an absolute deluge of works pouring from the presses, purporting to locate the key to human ethical behavior in Darwin’s theory of natural selection. In the academies, the evolutionary approach to human behavior has risen to something like an orthodoxy among a certain class of professor, according “Darwinism” now the same academic status that “Freudianism” and “Marxism” held in the ‘70’s and 80’s. Prominent psychologist Jonathan Haidt exults in the fact that moral theory is enjoying a “renaissance…a golden age,” all thanks to the alleged insights on offer from the camp of evolutionary theory,[i] and in this matter, he certainly speaks for a very large contingency. more>>>
The clinical diagnosis of hysteria has long been attacked by doctors and others who believe that it has no explanatory or even descriptive value. They suggest that the word be abandoned; but, as others have pointed out, it has a tendency to outlive its obituarists. Somehow we cannot now do without it; although allegedly meaningless, it is useful. more>>>
Iraqis Agree To Recompensing American Gulf War Victims Of Iraqi Abuse -- It's American Money Anyway
After eight years of living lavishly on the American dole -- the whole Iraqi fiasco has cost American taxpayers two trillion dollars (that figure includes the costs hidden in the general American defense budget, as well as the cost of lifetime care for 35,000 severely wounded veterans), of which hundreds of billions have been spent on "reconstruction" of what was never constructed in the first place. Quite a few Iraqi political figures have absconded with many millions or even tens of miillions. The amount of American money that disappeared, never accounted more, must by now be many billions. So why not, for public relations purposes, recognize this lawsuit? $400 million is nothing at all compared to what the Americans have spent. And as the last sentence menacingly hints, this move sets a precedent, the cunning Iraqis hope, so that many of them can now live on what they can get by suing the American government, for the last eight years of "invasion and occupation.."
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi lawmakers approved a controversial $400 million settlement Saturday for Americans who claim they were abused by Saddam Hussein's regime during the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The settlement is part of a deal reached between Baghdad and Washington last year to end years of legal battles by U.S. citizens who claim they were tortured or traumatized, including hundreds held as human shields.
Many Iraqis consider themselves victims of both Saddam's regime and the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and wonder why they should pay money for wrongs committed by the ousted dictator.
Lawmakers approved the settlement by a majority after listening to the foreign and finance ministers as well as the head of the central bank describe why it was necessary, said Abbas al-Bayati of the State of Law political bloc.
Another lawmaker, Mahmoud Othman, said by approving the settlement, Iraq would be protecting itself from more lawsuits in the future that could have been well above the $400 million that was agreed to.
"They explained very well what was the settlement and how it will be negative if we don't approve it," he said. "That's why people were persuaded."
Lawmakers affiliated with anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr rejected the settlement, said one of the bloc's legislators, Hakim al-Zamili. Al-Zamili said he was surprised that so many lawmakers who had been arguing against the legislation before Saturday's session reversed course at the last minute.
"It's better to compensate the Iraqi martyrs and detainees than the Americans," he said.
Saddam's regime held hostage hundreds of Americans during the run-up to the Gulf War, using them as human shields in hopes of staving off an attack by the U.S. and its allies. Most of the Americans had been living and working in Kuwait and after being taken hostage were dispersed to sites around Iraq.
Many of the Americans pursued lawsuits for years against Saddam's government and kept up their legal fight after Saddam was overthrown in 2003 and a new government came to power.
Some former American troops who were captured by Saddam's military during the Gulf War and repeatedly tortured and abused have also sued as have relatives of American oil workers who were working in Kuwait when they were picked up by Iraqi guards along the border.
It's not clear exactly who will be entitled to money under the settlement. When asked who would receive the money, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, David Ranz, said: "We are not in a position to confirm whether specific cases or claims by specific individuals are covered by the agreement." He declined to comment further.
Iraq was under a time crunch to approve the settlement before June 30, when Iraq will assume responsibility for overseeing its oil revenue account. Since 2003, the country's oil revenue has been held in a New York-based account that shelters it from international creditors' claims. The U.N.-backed protection expires when the oil revenue is transferred to Iraqi control, and Iraq could face international creditors like any other country.
According to the parliament's website, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told lawmakers the Iraqi government still had the right to submit its own demands for compensation to the American government. [presumably
Naive Enthusiasts For Giving Up The Golan Start To Re-Think
Read Sever Plocker here, admitting "I was wrong about Syria" but who still can't see the worthlesessness of any truce-treaty with a Muslim state, and the danger if such a treaty is obtained by giving up tangible assets -- land -- that are essential for security or will, at the very least, make it much more likely that the Muslim state in question will be tempted yet again to try open warfare as one way to conduct Jihad.
The comments, by others better informed about Islam than Sever Plocker, are illuminating.
While we're in Westminster Abbey, let us not forget John Betjeman. His poem In Westminster Abbey popped into my mind yesterday after a long absence, and it's a good 'un:
Let me take this other glove off
As the vox humana swells,
And the beauteous fields of Eden
Bask beneath the Abbey bells.
Here, where England's statesmen lie,
Listen to a lady's cry.
Gracious Lord, oh bomb the Germans,
Spare their women for Thy Sake,
And if that is not too easy
We will pardon Thy Mistake.
But, gracious Lord, whate'er shall be,
Don't let anyone bomb me.
Keep our Empire undismembered
Guide our Forces by Thy Hand,
Gallant blacks from far Jamaica,
Honduras and Togoland;
Protect them Lord in all their fights,
And, even more, protect the whites.
Think of what our Nation stands for,
Books from Boots' and country lanes,
Free speech, free passes, class distinction,
Democracy and proper drains.
Lord, put beneath Thy special care
One-eighty-nine Cadogan Square.
Although dear Lord I am a sinner,
I have done no major crime;
Now I'll come to Evening Service
Whensoever I have the time.
So, Lord, reserve for me a crown,
And do not let my shares go down.
I will labour for Thy Kingdom,
Help our lads to win the war,
Send white feathers to the cowards
Join the Women's Army Corps,
Then wash the steps around Thy Throne
In the Eternal Safety Zone.
Now I feel a little better,
What a treat to hear Thy Word,
Where the bones of leading statesmen
Have so often been interr'd.
And now, dear Lord, I cannot wait
Because I have a luncheon date.
Who hasn't had similar thoughts? I certainly have. But not about Cadogan Square. Make me rich enough to care.
BEIRUT, Lebanon — The Syrian government deployed more military reinforcements on Saturday to the besieged southern town of Dara’a, which has emerged as the symbol of Syria’s uprising and a center of the government’s crackdown, as the death toll from protests a day earlier rose to 73, according to activists and witnesses.
Security forces fortified their presence in Dara’a and its hinterland soon after dawn, with at least four tanks and 20 armored personal carriers arriving from the capital, said a witness from Dara’a, reached by phone. The military also shelled the Omari mosque, a landmark for protesters since demonstrations began more than six weeks ago against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, in power since 2000.
Four people were killed Saturday, said Abdallah Abazid, a resident. Among them, he said, were the son of the mosque’s preacher, who was shot when security forces entered his house looking for his father. The preacher, Sheik Ahmed al-Siasnah, was reportedly arrested later, though that could not be confirmed. He was among a delegation that met with Mr. Assad three weeks ago to discuss potential reforms in Syria.
The military effectively laid siege to Dara’a on Monday, storming the town with tanks and soldiers, and cutting electricity and phone lines. Since then, Dara’a has become a rallying cry for protesters across Syria, though the government has insisted that the unrest there is the work of Salafists, its preferred term for militant Islamists.
“It is a matter of a few hours only and everything will be finished in Dara’a,” a pro-government politician said from Damascus. “It is impossible for the Syrian regime to let some people announce a Salafi emirate in Dara’a. This is not Afghanistan.”
Through the day, Mr. Abazid said, heavy gunfire could be heard. Amid reports of shortages of food, medicine and baby formula, residents remained inside their homes another day, fearful that they might be killed by snipers if they went outside, he said.
“The security forces are hunting us down,” he said. “We are unarmed and protecting our town with our bare chests, and they are shooting at us.”
The military reinforcements in Dara’a came a day after the United States announced sanctions against three top officials in Mr. Assad’s government, including his brother Maher al-Assad, who is leading the military operations in Dara’a.
Activists have warned of a humanitarian crisis in the town.
“The situation in Dara’a is worse today than it was before,” said Wissan Tarif, the executive director of Insan, a Syrian human rights group.
On Friday, 34 people were killed there when thousands of protesters from nearby villages, in a show of solidarity, descended on the town, which straddles a largely agricultural region, known as the Houran, that is knit by extended clan loyalties. Some organizers said the protesters, carrying olive branches and white sheets to signal their peacefulness, were trying to break the siege and deliver food and water. Security forces fired at them anyway, in some of the worst carnage since the uprising began.
Mr. Tarif said that security forces refused to return the bodies of the dead to their families in hopes of stopping funeral processions, which have often turned into more protests. The only bodies given back, he said, were of children, and their parents were told to bury them early Saturday morning in the presence of Syrian officials.
Friday’s toll was the worst since a week earlier, when at least 112 people were killed in protests in towns and cities across the country. Organizers said the breadth was similar on Friday, with large protests in the central cities of Homs and Hama, towns on the Mediterranean coast like Baniyas and Latakia, and Kurdish towns in the east. A protest of hundreds was reported in Damascus — bigger than past weeks, but still relatively small by the standards of demonstrations elsewhere.
Since the uprising began, human rights groups say 535 people have been killed.
Page 6, Table of Contents, "Countries of Particular Concern":
Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea)
People's Republic of China
Page 6-7, Table of Contents, "The Commission's Watch List":
Page 7, Table of Contents, "Additional Countries Closely Monitored"
There are 28 countries on that list, of which 20 are Muslim majority nations. That is, Muslims make up only 21% of the world's population, but make up 71% of the nations with severe religious-freedom problems. I believe that's no coincidence. It is exactly due to the intolerant and hateful teachings of Islam and the Qur'an that Islamic-majority nations are intolerant and hateful towards other religions.
Also, some of the non-Muslim nations are listed here in reaction to Muslim terrorism. Russia curtails religious freedom precisely because of Islamic terrorist attacks in Russia. And India is listed for acts of "communal violence", which are usually conflicts between Muslims and Hindus.
Note that this report has been in process for a while; look who is missing: Tunisia, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen. Could anyone argue with a straight face that any of them do not have a serious problem with lack of religious freedom, or religious violence? But printing deadlines being what they are, they will have to wait until next year to appear on the list.
Nevertheless, notice that some of our best friends and strongest allies did make the list: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia. Egypt makes the list for the first time. And what exactly did we get, how many hearts and minds did we win over, in Afghanistan and Iraq in return for the trillions of dollars we have invested there?
"The religious freedom situation in Pakistan deteriorated greatly during the reporting period. While the Zardari government has taken some positive actions to promote religious tolerance and remedy abuses, it has failed to reverse the erosion in the social and legal status of religious minorities and the severe obstacles the majority Muslim community faces to the free discussion of sensitive religious and social issues. A number of Pakistan‘s laws abridge religious freedom. Blasphemy laws are used against members of religious minority communities and dissenters within the majority Muslim community, and frequently result in imprisonment on account of religion or belief and/or vigilante violence. Three individuals had death sentences imposed or upheld against them during the reporting period. Anti-Ahmadi laws discriminate against individual Ahmadis and effectively criminalize various practices of their faith. The Hudood Ordinances provide for harsh punishments for alleged violations of Islamic law by both Muslims and non-Muslims. Anti-government elements espousing an intolerant interpretation of Islam continue to perpetrate acts of violence against other Muslims and religious minorities. The government‘s response to religiously-motivated extremism remains inadequate, despite increased military operations." -Page 110
"The Saudi government persists in severely restricting all forms of public religious expression, other than the government‘s interpretation of its version of Sunni Islam. This policy violates the human rights of large, indigenous communities of Muslims from a variety of schools of Islam, including significant populations of Sunni Muslims who follow variant schools of thought, Shi‘a Muslims, and Ismaili Muslims, as well as both Muslim and non-Muslim expatriate workers. The government enforces its tight controls by heavily restricting the religious activity it does permit—through limits on the building of mosques, the appointment of imams, the regulation of sermons and public celebrations, and the content of religious education in public schools—and suppresses the religious views of Saudi and non-Saudi Muslims who do not conform to official positions. In addition, the Saudi government continues its systematic practices of short-term detentions, without trial, of minority Muslims, particularly Shi‘a Muslims, for religious observance not in accordance with the government‘s interpretation of Islam. Such practices are intended to intimidate and harass these groups." -Page 142
And so on. There is nothing that will be news to regular readers of NER. However, what is amazing is that this is the work of a U.S. governmental agency. The USCIRF go into great detail, documenting the who, what, where, how (though admittedly not "why") of the past year's jihad. There is no way that members of Congress can claim not to have been informed about the terrorizing of Christians, Jews, and Hindus by Muslims.
USCIRF did more than document; they were also active at the UN in (successfully) trying to stifle passage of the blasphemy law. They communicated directly with the Obama Administration about the religious persecution taking place throughout the world.
Unfortunately, the USCIRF can only make recommendations; it is up to the State Department to either add these nations to the official watch lists, or not; or to set sanctions, or not. These decisions are usually made out of political expediency, not reality. Let's hope they follow the USCIRF's recommendations this year.
For all the complaining we do about the performance of our government with regard to Islam, it is heartening that parts of our government get it almost right. Eventually, the only solution to jihad must involve our government.
German terror suspect trained by al-Qaida, US official says
By Robert Windrem NBC News investigative producer for special projects
The arrests of three suspected terrorists Friday in Germany are significant, according to U.S. officials, who say at least one member of the trio was trained by al-Qaida – not merely inspired by the terrorist organization.
The three men arrested in and around Duesseldorf, all German nationals, had been under surveillance for some time, and that U.S. intelligence cooperated with German authorities in the investigation, said one U.S. official, who spoke with NBC News on condition of anonymity. The official added that the men had already put together "precursor chemicals" for a terror attack and were planning a "test run" on Friday morning. Although the test was postponed, German authorities decided to move in and arrest them, the official said.
U.S. officials described the planned target as "localized" and related to "public transportation, trains or buses." The official would not comment when asked if U.S. servicemen might have been targeted. Public transportation has become a primary target of al-Qaida and other terrorist groups in the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States, with more than 800 people killed around the world, from London to Mumbai to Moscow, in the past five years.
Neither U.S. nor German authorities would identify the suspects, but German security officials said all three were of Moroccan origin.
Many Israelis assumed Assad's Iran alliance was not a happy one. On the contrary, that axis is ensuring the dictator's survival
'If you mess around with Assad [right], you are issuing a challenge also to Iran [and Ahmadinejad, left] … the west doesn't want to do that.' Photograph: Vahid Salemi/AP
One early casualty of the Syrian uprising has been the "Syrian option" favoured by an influential section of Israel's policymaking elite. The case within Israel for engagement with and potential concessions to Damascus rested on a number of assumptions.
Most centrally, Syria's strategic alliance with Iran was thought of as an uncomfortable fit for the non-Islamist rulers of Syria – so it was assumed that President Assad was looking for a way out if it. Assad's relations with allied Islamist movements such as Hezbollah and Hamas were considered similarly instrumental in nature, and hence similarly susceptible to alteration. The Israeli "Syria firsters" therefore advocated a process whereby Syria would receive territorial concessions from Israel in return for a strategic realignment away from Iran and toward the US.
These assumptions were noteworthy in that they were not only untrue, but in many ways represented the precise opposite of the truth. Syria's alignment with Iran and its backing of local paramilitary and terrorist clients are not flimsy marriages of convenience. They were and are the core of a successful regional policy. Through it, Damascus has magnified its local and regional influence, and obtained an insurance policy against paying any price for its activities.
This insurance policy is now paying dividends. Syria's alignment with the regional axis led by Iran represents Assad's best hope of survival. Indeed, western fear of Iran is the crucial factor making possible the crackdown in Syria and hence the survival of the regime.
The pro-western Arab authoritarian rulers, Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, were forced aside by a combination of internal and subsequent western pressure. Non-aligned, isolated Muammar Gaddafi now finds himself fighting in Libya against a coalition of local rebels and western air power.
Assad, by contrast, who is aligned with the coalition of anti-western states and movements led by Iran, is currently facing only nominal and minimal western pressure. This is despite the fact that he appears to be engaged in the energetic slaughter of his own people.
This is because if you mess around with Assad, you are issuing a challenge also to Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and their various regional allies and interests in Iraq and further afield. The leaders of the west don't want to do that.
According to opposition reports, Iranian personnel are on the ground helping to crush the rebellion in Syria. Many Syrians believe that the snipers whose bullets are reaping a terrible toll among the protestors are Iranians. Syrian-Iranian military co-operation is formalised (a co-operation treaty was signed in 1998) and intensive. Syria gives Iran a presence on the Mediterranean, and is the key arms conduit between Tehran and its Hezbollah client in Lebanon. It is also a major recipient of Iranian arms and aid. And Iran, evidently, sticks by its allies.
Since the west's commitment to regional liberty and freedom does not appear to extend to entangling itself in a general confrontation with the Iran-led regional bloc, Assad may feel reasonably confident. Now he just needs to crush the internal challenge.
Which brings us back to our Israeli Syria-firsters. There is now an interesting split developing in this camp. Some of its members have realised the moral and political absurdities of advocating concessions to a bloodstained dictatorship (and not even a stable one) and are issuing mea culpas. Others are recommending that the west offer to underwrite Assad's regime in return for his aligning away from the Iranians.
But in the end, the Israeli "Syrian option" advocates don't matter much. Israel is not going to decide whether Assad survives or not. And Assad is not going to align away from his key Iranian guarantor – whatever his would-be Israeli friends want.
There are more crucial matters at stake here than the fate of a dead-end policy option in Israel. The Syrian dictator is currently getting away with slaughtering large numbers of his people because of western fear of Iran and its proxies. The question of whether the Arab spring stops at the borders of the Iran-led regional alliance will thus be decided in Syria.
The Iranians and their allies, who enthusiastically cheered the demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia, are keen to ensure that it does end there. Western policy, meanwhile, looks likely to be too confused and hesitant to ensure that it does not. This matter will be decided in the weeks and months ahead.
The fall or weakening of the Assad regime in Syria would constitute a serious body blow to Iranian regional ambitions. Its resurgence under the protective tutelage of Tehran, by contrast, would prove that membership of the Iranian alliance provides a handy guarantee for autocratic rulers hoping to avoid the judgment of their peoples. In the ongoing cold war that remains the key strategic process in the Middle East, the west should see preventing this outcome as a key objective.
Most of us will have hosted a party at some time, and not properly enjoyed it until most of the guests have gone home and it's all over bar the shouting. Then you can really relax, drink some of the leftover wine and flop on the sofa. Or do a cartwheel or two, like the verger in Westminster Abbey:
Look at his face. If that isn't joy, I don't know what is.
In Tunisia, The Temporary Tyrant Fled And The Permanent Tyrant, Islam, Is In His Stead
Over 800 inmates escape Tunisian prisons
By BOUAZZA BEN BOUAZZA
Tunisian islamists, calling for the resignation of Tunisia's Minister of religious Affairs, Laroussi Mizouri, run for cover during scuffles with police officers in Tunis, Friday, April 29, 2009
More than 800 inmates escaped on Friday from two Tunisian prisons after fires were set in cells, the official news agency said.
Soldiers and security forces quickly fanned out in a search of the fugitives and at least 35 were caught within hours, TAP said, citing military sources.
TAP reported that 522 inmates from the prison in Kasserine escaped after a fire in two cells, and another 300 inmates escaped from the Gafsa prison.
The two towns are both in Tunisia's center-west region, some 150 kilometers (about 95 miles) apart. Personnel at the prison in Gafsa were on strike at the time, likely making the mass exodus by inmates easier.
The North African nation has been hit by social unrest since the country's long-time autocratic ruler was ousted Jan. 14 in an uprising.
Some 11,000 inmates escaped from Tunisian prisons shortly after Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled into exile. Of those, several thousand have been caught and nearly 2,000 turned themselves in after the Justice Ministry warned the escape could worsen their cases, TAP reported.
Earlier, in the capital Tunis, police fired tear gas at hundreds of Islamists protesting what they said were offensive comments toward Islam by two teachers.
Protesters chanted "God is Great," and carried banners including one reading "We do not pardon those who insult the prophet."
Several hours of peaceful protest degenerated when some demonstrators sought to take on police, who immediately fired tear gas.
The demonstration on the main Avenue Bourguiba was the latest since Ben Ali was brought down, hounded out of the country by protesters angry over unemployment, corruption and repression.
Tunisia's uprising prompted protests around the Arab world.
Reform Jews Take Out Ad Against URJ Leader Rabbi Richard Jacobs over his J Street Ties
32 Reform Jews across America took out an ad that appeared this week in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal and national Jewish Newspaper, The Forward. The group calls themselves Jews Against Divisive Leadership (JADL). They were objecting to the patent Anti-Israel stands of the new Reform Movement President designee, Rabbi Richard Jacobs, the ‘visionary’ spiritual leader of the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York.
The JADL signatories to the ad declared:
The Union for Reform Judaism’s nominee for President, Rabbi Richard Jacobs, does not represent the pro-Israel policies cherished by Reform Jews. He does not represent us.
He is . . . Anti-Israel and No Zionist given his current and past memberships in the J Street Rabbinic Council, the board of the New Israel Fund (NIF), chair of its ‘Pluralism Grants Committee’ and co-chair of its Rabbinical Council. He may have been one of the rabbis who attended White House sessions with Jewish communal heads as an acolyte of President Obama’s peace process to be imposed on Israel in a dangerous and chaotic Middle East.
The FresnoZionism.org (FZ) blog post, “New URJ Head has appalling Ideology”, we cited in our March 23rd Iconoclast post, had several telling examples of Rabbi Jacob’s views. The JADL ad noted, among these, Jacob’s presence on the J Street Rabbinic Cabinet, the board of the NIF, and the anti-Zionist Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood demonstration in Jerusalem.
The trio of reform rabbis gave several reasons why Jacob’s form of Zionism was the real deal. They excoriated the ad sponsors for allying themselves with right-wing extremists and put a sheen on the infectious approach of the new URJ head, Jacobs, appealing to young unaffiliated 30 to 40 something Jews ‘embarrassed’ by Israel.
The fact that those who have assaulted Rabbi Jacobs’ integrity have wrapped themselves in the flag of Zionist purity is particularly galling. Since its inception, the Zionist movement has provided a forum for a range of opinions. If these self- appointed purists try to bar a great congregational rabbi whose views represent the mainstream of the American Jewish community and the Reform Jewish Movement from the fold of the True Believers, who wins? The campaign to discredit the work of the NIF (which hundreds of Zionist rabbis support) shows all the symptoms of separation plague — self-righteous certainty, disregard for nuance, allergy to reason and a strong appetite for the whiff of a witch-hunt. Support for Israel is not the exclusive property of one party or another.
Lovers of Israel with a range of political commitments should welcome with enthusiasm that the mantle of leadership of the Reform Movement will go to a man who cares deeply about Jewish learning, Jewish creativity and Jewish unity. They should decry tawdry attempts to sully the integrity of a good man. Rabbi Jacobs is a model of constructive engagement. At a time of rampant confusion and galloping alienation, the tactics of witch-hunting and demagoguery are not what we need. The leadership epitomized by Rabbi Richard Jacobs is.
That is clearly not what either the FZ or the JADL believe. Witness these concluding comments from the FZ post:
I am not sure about what wrapping oneself in the flag of Zionist purity is, but this brings me to the next fallacy that is so prevalent in this piece: I call it the Humpty Dumpty fallacy (apologies to Lewis Carroll): the view that words can mean whatever one wants them to mean. ‘Zionism‘is a word that already means something, and the rabbis cannot simply redefine it to mean “knowing what’s good for Israel better than Israelis themselves,” as they seem to want to do.
The tone of this article is insulting. The writers say that critics of the NIF display “self-righteous certainty, disregard for nuance, allergy to reason and a strong appetite for the whiff of a witch-hunt.”
May I suggest that this better characterizes the writers themselves?
Three of the JADL ad signatories came from Temple Beth Avodah in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. They are Richard Calmus, Judi and Norman Greenberg and Margot Einstein. They have reason to be concerned about Rabbi Jacobs given that their spiritual leader, Rabbi Keith Stern, was a roommate of Rabbi Jacobs at the Hebrew Union College-the Reform movement seminary. Stern is also on the board of the J Street Rabbinical Cabinet.
Stern and Jacobs were among the 400 rabbis who signed a letter sent by the progressive group, Jewish Funds for Justice that ran in the Wall Street Journal and The Jewish Forward requesting that Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch ‘sanction’ Glen Beck for alleged anti-Semitic remarks about the adolescent George Soros’ involvement in confiscation of Jewish property during the Holocaust in Hungary revealed in a 1998 interview with Steve Kroft of CBS 60 Minutes. Stern was one of the 70 members of the Sanhedrin of foolish rabbis who signed a letter to the Boston Jewish Advocate, effectively issuing a ‘rabbinic fatwa’ against Dr. Charles Jacobs (no relation). This banned him from their pulpits for the unforgiveable sin of criticizing one of their own members, Rabbi Eric Gurvis, immediate past-President of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Gurvis was photographed in a bear hug with an anti-Semitic leader of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, Bilal Kaleem, head of Boston Chapter of the Muslim American Society, a Muslim Brotherhood front. See our NER interview with Jacobs, “Fighting Muslim Brotherhood Lawfare and Rabbinic Fatwas.”
There was a free speech incident that involved Rabbi Stern and J Street leader, Jeremy Ben Ami, at Temple Beth Avodah. A number of congregants had submitted suggested speakers to appear at adult education lectures, one of whom was Dr. Charles Jacobs. Stern refused the congregants’ suggestions. But then Stern was presented with an opportunity to have J Street Leader, Jeremy Ben Ami speak at Temple Beth Avodah, which caused an uproar among his congregants. As a result he was forced by members of his congregation to change the venue to a local elementary school.
Doughty JADL signatory, Margot Einstein, stood up at the public school J Street presentation and said:
What kind of free speech is it when our rabbi said that Dr. Charles Jacobs would never set foot in my Temple?
So, the reform rabbinate in America is bound and determined to lead the Reform Movement into abject dhimmitude to Jihadist allies both in America and the chaotic Middle East. All perpetrated under the Orwellian mantra of Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street demanding an immediate Palestinian state putting Israel at risk behind the infamous pre-June 1967 War armistice line that divided Jerusalem. A Palestinian unity deal was announced this week between the PLO-Fatah on the West Bank and the Hamas ‘terrorstan’ in Gaza, now formally allied in seeking the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel. This nefarious unity deal was immediately rejected by Israeli PM Netanyahu because it directly threatened the security of six million Jewish citizens of Israel. J Street Rabbis Jacobs, Stern, Ellenson, Kelman, Marmur and hundreds of others may find themselves besieged by a lot more reform members than just the 32 JADL ad signatories. By persisting in this deception, that J Street is ‘pro-Israel, pro peace’ they are, in actuality, traitors to the Zionist cause and the Jewish State of Israel.
After the tumult and the shouting had died, I found myself wondering what it would all seem like to someone who knew little about it, to some anthropologist studying the behaviour of the British tribes without ever having lived among them.
First of all, it would seem unique. There are other royal weddings – in Spain, or Sweden, or Swaziland – and I am sure they are very nice. But they do not stand for anything much in the eyes of the world. They don’t attract messages of support from the crew in the International Space Station – a particularly surreal touch in yesterday’s reports. They don’t echo in the imagination of humanity. Our one does.
Nor could anything comparable take place in a republic. The French can do splendid parades which express the nation’s high sense of itself. The Americans in their presidential inauguration – especially in that of Barack Obama – find a simple, but impressive way of reaffirming the principles of their constitution. The Catholic Church, when installing (though sadly, no longer crowning) a new pope, offers a ceremony which brings home the power, the loneliness and the humility of that extraordinary position.
But nothing else anywhere has the archetypal quality of what was shown in Westminster Abbey, the same closeness between what is unspeakably grand and what is ordinarily human.
I suspect that my imaginary anthropologist might find it very confusing. We are, after all, confused ourselves. Yesterday, the historian Simon Schama, who provided expert advice on the BBC, told us that kingship and royal weddings had once been all about power, but today “power has nothing to do with it. This is the simple sense of connection.” This prompted Huw Edwards, in a wonderful non-sequitur, to say: “William will be head of the Armed Forces, of course, when he succeeds to the throne.” I love that “of course”. “How can a man be head of the Armed Forces and have no power?” my poor anthropologist might ask. It would not be easy for Huw Edwards, or even Professor Schama, to answer him. Yet the fact is that, in Britain, he can be; and most of us approve.
Just now, an 85-year-old woman is head of our Armed Forces, and it is one of the main things which allow us, in this perilous world, to sleep easily in our beds. Yesterday was a “day of rage” in Syria. The Bishop did not overstate it when he said that, in Britain, it was “a joyful day”.
If the anthropologist got to work on the DVD of yesterday, what values would he find displayed? He would discern a sense of decorum and ceremony. Contained in this is a strong idea that how something is said in words or presented visually has delicate shades of meaning which must be respected and brought out. He would be interested to discover that the exact words used were written down 450 years ago, and that the basic form of the vows, like some of the building, is roughly a thousand years old. He would understand that these were made in the name of a Supreme Being in whose honour the whole building was constructed. He would note that the clothes, particularly of the men, denoted hierarchy, function and history all at once. He would understand that the whole thing was about love, and yet that the interests of the state were deeply engaged.
But at the same time, he would see that people’s attitude to the day was also amused and kind-hearted, and even vulgar. In other cultures which he had studied, he might have expected huge crowds to converge on palaces only when they were angry, or under orders. Here they strolled up laughing and waving, often with painted faces and wearing silly hats. He would observe that their pleasure was family-based and intergenerational, with the old informing the young (including a jolly old couple from Stoke-on-Trent who made people stand up for the national anthem).
Finally, he would notice that this clearly very ancient thing was not cobwebby and hidden, but well-lit and filmic. It was presented with the greatest possible care for the modern medium that would convey it to the world.
What might he conclude then, about the culture he found himself studying? Very complicated, he might think – interesting and beautiful and alive; a high civilisation, perhaps, and even, occasionally, a happy one.